Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [January 3rd]” plus 11 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [January 3rd]” plus 11 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [January 3rd]

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 07:31 PM PST

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

Add Your Website Here!


Webcams Travel – Are you trying to decide which location should you choose for your next vacation? What will help more than brochures and travel pamphlets is an actual, more 'real' view of the places you plan on visiting. This view can be received through Webcams Travel. Webcams Travel is a free and simple to use website that lets you see the real time camera feeds of countless people throughout the world. Read more: WebcamsTravel: View Real Time Camera Feeds From Around The World


OCR Convert – OCR technology lets you convert images into editable text documents. Thanks to OCR you can easily modify documents and correct their errors without having to retype the entire thing. OCRConvert is one online resource that lets you make use of OCR technology. It is a basic OCR web tool that will help you convert text, including images, into simple text documents. Read more: OCRConvert: Convert Image Text to Editable Text



Banckle – Sometimes a company or an organization doesn't need a complicated platform for collaborating and communicating online. If you are looking for a simple and straightforward web platform for communication and file sharing, check out Banckle. It is a cloud-based communication and collaboration tools platform that combines live chat, online meeting, site search, file sharing, email server, group chat, enterprise IM, and remote access all into one, accessible place. Read more: Banckle: An Online Suite With Team Communication and Collaboration Tools



eBay Group Gifts – Many occasions like farewells, retirements or even weddings are often suitable for giving group gifts. However, the traditional way of one person making the payment and then running after the rest of the group members to collect their pledges is pretty painful. eBay Group Gifts makes the process easy by letting all the group members chip in their share online through Paypal or credit card. Read more: eBay Group Gifts: eBay Group Gifting Made Simple



Fooducate – If you are one of those who doesn't easily believe nutritional claims printed on food products, you'll love this iPhone app. Fooducate shows you all about an item's nutrition once you scan its bar code using your iPhone. It displays major nutritional information including anything thats not healthy for you. In addition, Fooducate displays a number of healthier food alternatives that are very similar to the item you are looking at but much healthier. Read more: Fooducate: Scan Product Bar Code & View Healthier Food Alternatives (iPhone)


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Join MakeUseOf On Twitter!

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 06:31 PM PST

If you have discovered MakeUseOf just recently and are one of our 360,000+ subscribers, consider following us on Twitter as well.

You’ll be notified everytime there is a new post on the MakeUseOf Blog, a web app review on the MakeUseOf Directory or something new on Geeky Fun.

Plus, we would love it if you would re-tweet the posts and discuss them, so more people get to know about us and join our community.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter Now

Thank you!

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

3 Greasemonkey Scripts To Jump From Google Results To Other Search Engines

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 05:31 PM PST

google greasemonkey scriptGoogle is an awesome search engine and more often than not we turn to it when we need to find information on something. However Google is not the only search engine we need and use.

Very often we need more specific and targeted resources: we turn to Flickr when we need to search for creative photos, we turn to YouTube for user-created videos, we turn to reference sources to find some quick brief information on an event or word. All of these and other niche search engines won’t ever be substituted by the mighty Google.

Even Google knows that. Do you remember that when Google was being launched, it had those “quick search” links taking you to the current search results on other search engines? This post is about bringing this old and forgotten Google feature back using Greasemonkey scripts.

1. Try This Search On

Download the script here.

Where are the links displayed? Links to the available alternative search engines are displayed in the bar which you can choose to display at the bottom or the top of the page.

This script creates links to search results provided by the following search engines (by default):

  • Amazon (US, Canada and United Kingdom);
  • Ask (general, image search and news search);
  • Google (general, image search, video search and news search);
  • Bing (general, image search, video search and news search);
  • Yahoo (general, image search, video search and news search);
  • YouTube;
  • Wikipedia

google greasemonkey script

You can easily modify the list of search engines by going to the script options (click “?” in the script panel – see the screenshot above) and viewing the list of available search engine IDs:

greasemonkey google results

From the options page you can also set the bar position. You can easily hide the panel by clicking the x sign.


Download the script here.

Where are the links displayed? Links to the available alternative search engines are displayed below the search results right under Google’s paging.

The script by a Google employee reviving an old Google search feature displays links to the following search engines by default:

  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • Ask
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Wikipedia
  • Digg (doesn’t seem to work)
  • Flickr
  • Imbd

greasemonkey google results

If you click + sign following the list, you’ll be able to choose the order of the search engines displayed. You’ll also be able to choose from the huge variety of databases to try your search in (there are 42 different search sites to choose from):

greasemonkey google results

Note: the tool is quite old and I am not sure if it was ever updated, so you may find some of the search engines not working. I for one couldn’t get Digg search to work there. However you should be able to modify the script’s source code to get the one (which is really important for you) to work properly.


Download the script here.

Where are the links displayed? Links to the available alternative search engines are displayed in the sidebar to the right of search results.

Alternative search engines include:

  • Ask;
  • Bing;
  • Dmoz;
  • DeepDyve;
  • WolframAlpha;
  • Scour

greasemonkey scripts google

I wasn’t able to find a way to edit the list of available search engines.

If you like this one, you may want to check out its minimal version – with it, only favicons of search sites are displayed.

google greasemonkey script

Do you find the option to try your searches on different search engines useful? Please share your thoughts!

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

5 Easy Ways To Be Charitable In The Year Ahead

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 04:31 PM PST

list of charitiesSo Christmas has been and gone. Are you now facing the New Year and wondering how you can keep up the Christmas spirit and goodwill for the coming year? Well, it certainly helps when you know how to do so for free from your own home.

There are so many simple ways to volunteer or donate to charity by giving up a small amount of your time or re-purposing some money you would normally have spent. So here’s a list of five of the best quick and easy ways to volunteer or donate to charity. Bookmark the list of charities and use it to do the rounds weekly!


This is a great concept — it’s a site which makes you think about how much money you waste on frivolous things. You nominate something which you will give up, say a lunch or newspapers for a month. Then you donate that same amount of money to feeding a hungry child.

Yes, you’re handing over money to charity, but it’s money you would have spent anyway. It’s also easy to share news of your donation with your friends via social networks, and hopefully convince a few of them to skip something for charity too.

list of charities

Free Rice

Free Rice has been around a while, but it’s so good it’s worth making sure it’s on this list. Play a simple, addictive trivia quiz and Free Rice will donate rice for each of your correct answers. This is a free and simple way to give whenever you have a free moment. Read more on FreeRice here.

best charities


There are a number of things you can do using Causes, including raising awareness for your chosen charity and helping to raise funds for them. By far the easiest way to donate money with Causes is to set up a birthday or holiday fund. This way, instead of receiving presents from friends and family, you simply ask them to donate the money on your behalf. It takes about two minutes to set up, since you can log in with Facebook Connect – just choose the charity and you’re set!

best charities

Charity Gifts

Here’s another easy way to spend your money on charity instead of something you were already going to pay for. Instead of giving gifts to your friends, give them the knowledge that you have donated to charity on their behalf. The Donation4Charity website searches all the big charity gifting sites (such as UNICEF, WWF and Oxfam) and lets you search the gifts according to how much money you have available to spend. Buy a goat for charity for about the same price as a modest gift!

best charities


Spend 5-10 minutes donating your expertise to charity: Give website feedback, brainstorm fundraising ideas or help design an awareness campaign. This is what they need help with – if you can spend a few minutes working on it then you’ve made a difference to a real charity with just a moment of your time. Read more on Sparked here & get going!

list of charities

And many, many more!

There are so many great ways to donate your time to charity — the sites listed above are just a few. Here’s some more great articles which introduce many more you might like to try.

What are your favourite sites for donating your time to charity? Do you appreciate charity gifts given on your behalf? Let us know in the comments!

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

The 6 Best Free Online Meeting Tools to Collaborate With Your Team

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 03:30 PM PST

free online meeting toolsThe focus of web applications on collaborative efforts has been stronger than ever. You can hardly find a web-based application that won’t let you share a link to a public document or image, much less if it’s a productivity app. There are lots of productivity applications, particularly on the desktop, that seem to offer more and more collaboration features, but with the advent of web-friendly OSes, such as Google Chrome OS, Jolicloud and the like; there’s bound to be increased interest in web-based, collaboration-centric apps.

This round-up is a collection of incredible free online meeting tools that don’t skimp on features even when they are browser-based. Instead, they offer pretty fully featured suites for collaboration even to users with free accounts, but of course, most have additional paid offerings as well. Let’s take a look at the best free collaboration tools so far.

Free Project Collaboration Portal: TeamLab

free online meeting tools

TeamLab is a project management platform that allows users to import data from Basecamp, build teams and departments, assign tasks, schedule milestones, lead discussions, track time spent on project tasks, generate reports and backup data. TeamLab also utilizes social tools to keep colleagues connected with corporate instant messenger, forums, blogs, and Wiki pages, as well as bookmark, photo and file sharing (uploaded files can’t exceed 25MB). While there’s no indication of the limit of users or projects, the source code is available for deployment if your team wants to host it on your own servers, restore backups and have more general control. TeamLab’s current features are said to remain free, while future offerings, such as document editing and e-mail management, may be available for certain fees.

While TeamLab seems to have the best offerings, there are lots of similar services, including UbiDesk, Huddle and TeamBox, though they all seem to come with more limitations for the free accounts in user or project count.

Document Collaboration Tools: Sync.in & Twiddla

online meeting

Sync.in is a web-based word processor for people who need to collaborate on the same public document in real-time. It allows users to co-edit notes for brainstorming sessions, planning projects, creating outlines, etc, as well as chat in real-time, identify each others’ color-coded edits, undo unlimited saves, replay edits using an in-document time-slider, and mark versions as important. Sync.in also has a cross-platform launcher for users who want to create new Sync.in notes from their desktop. No sign-up process is required. Users aching for more features, such as selective public access, own team site at “yourTeamName.sync.in” and bulk export, can check out Sync.in Pro.

online meeting

Twiddla is a neat space for guests to markup webpages, documents and images. It can also serve as a collaborative whiteboard, text editor and chat service. While it also allows voice-conference, I couldn’t find the voice chat feature anywhere on the site. For storage, guests will need to buy accounts, but for general brainstorming and idea exchange, Twiddla has quite a bit of features.

Web-Conferencing Services: Tokbox VideoChatDimDim, Vyew

online meeting

While Tokbox has evolved into a business-friendly solution for web-based, video-conferencing, it still offers free, casual video calls for up to 20 users at a time. It also allows users to send video messages, text chat, share YouTube videos in-line, invite friends from Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, Windows Live, AIM, or via email, as well as embed video chat and recorder widgets. Tokbox offers a very user-friendly interface with virtually no learning curve.

group meeting online

If you’re itching for additional features, check out DimDim which offers public web meetings with a shared whiteboard, annotation tools, live document-sharing, as well as screen-sharing (via a downloadable plugin) and text chatting with up to 10 users (although only one user webcam can be enabled during a meeting).

free online meeting tools

Vyew is another great web-conference service that offers private rooms, webcam and voice chat for up to 10 users, a conference number you can call to join the private conversation, a whiteboard, screen-sharing (via Java authorization), and ability to leave voice notes in addition to text and annotations on workspace. Free accounts have an ad-supported interface, but I didn’t find any ads while testing in my session.

For desktop-based tools that allow video-conferencing for two or more users, check out the open-source OpenMeetings.

What free online meeting tools would you recommend to work with colleagues? Share your preferred applications in the comments!

Photo credit: deviantdark

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

5 Things To Consider Before Buying A Netbook

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 01:30 PM PST

buying a netbookFor anyone with even a mild addiction to the online world, a netbook is an attractive bit of kit. The ability to surf the net anywhere with a wireless or 3G connection, using a real keyboard and operating system whilst retaining lightweight portability is… well, awesome.

However, there are a couple of things worth remembering if you’re considering dropping your hard earned cash on one of these go-anywhere mobile internet devices.

Here’s a thought-provoking list of questions to ask yourself before reaching for your wallet and buying a Netbook.

What Operating System Do I Want?

Many netbooks these days come with either Windows XP (which is usually pretty speedy on the hardware supplied) or Windows 7 (which much of the time isn’t). If you’re anything like me, you’ll be just as interested in using your netbook with one of a variety of OS choices that are freely available online.

buying a netbook

Hardware compatibility and driver issues can cause a lot of problems if you’ve not properly thought this one through, so if you are leaning towards Linux or a cloud-based OS (like Jolicloud or Google Chrome OS) then you might want to check your model’s compatibility before taking the plunge.

As each OS is different, search engines are your best friend for this. A quick search should reveal the information you’re looking for. Don’t assume because your netbook comes with its own stripped-down Linux distribution the rest will just work.

What About Tablets?

Yes, yes, netbooks are cool – we’ve established that – but tablets are pretty cool too. If you’ve already got a laptop you might want to consider whether an even-smaller one is the right choice.

buying a netbook guide

After all, if you’re spending all that money, you might want to think about a tablet instead. The market is saturated with affordable tablet PCs these days, from Apple’s iPad (which you can jailbreak) to the many hundreds of Android devices and even those running Windows 7.

A tablet PC might seem like a silly idea, but if you’re only going to use your netbook for reading RSS feeds, Twitter and the odd email then a tablet might suit better than a netbook. If you think you’ll be getting a bit more text-heavy then a USB keyboard is always an option, depending on your OS.

Do I Need RAM?

Of course you need RAM, but it’s the amount of RAM that can cause an issue. Many netbooks come with the bare minimum amount, which is usually 1GB. The very same netbooks often come with Windows 7 pre-installed, and Windows 7 eats RAM for breakfast and is hungry again by lunch.

buying a netbook guide

If you do want to get that little extra performance out of your potential new purchase then a RAM upgrade might just do the trick, just be sure to budget for it when making your purchase.

Just be sure to check that opening up the case isn’t going to void your warranty.

Is Typing Difficult?

I discovered my main issue with netbooks one afternoon whilst borrowing a friend’s – the size of my hands. I don’t have freak-show sized hands, but as a male with a larger-than-average hand span typing made for an interesting experience and plenty of typos.

buying a netbook guide

If possible, have a play with your chosen model in a shop (even if you buy it cheaper on the net afterwards). There’s a good selection of models (like Asus’ latest EeePC additions) that have revised ergonomic keyboards that heavily rely on the function key to make everyday typing that little bit less frustrating.

If you have smaller, nimble fingers then you’re less likely to run into this problem.

Will My Smartphone Suffice?

If you’re the proud owner of a snazzy new smartphone, then you might find yourself asking whether a netbook really provides that much more portability. 3G and wireless, GPS and the myriad of apps available for the latest Android, iOS and Blackberry devices put some netbooks to shame.

before buying a netbook

There’s no substitute for a real keyboard but in terms of communication and power in your pocket, smartphones are becoming irreplaceable. Whether we’ll all say the same about netbooks in 10 years remains to be seen.

What About My Girlfriend/Pets/Friends?

The only drawback to an awesome piece of tech is the time you lose whilst playing with it. If you literally don’t know when to stop, then buying an ultra portable web browser might just turn you into a cyber-hermit.

buying a netbook

The time you often spend on the couch with your family or in the park with friends probably won’t be more enjoyable with a netbook. It’s worth thinking long and hard if you actually have the time to use another online device and maintain plenty of offline time in your life too. Sometimes the web can wait.


Netbooks can be quite expensive for the hardware provided, and this means you’re paying for the convenience, portability and battery life. This can be just what you’ve been looking for, an excuse to leave your roasting-hot laptop in the study and kick back with a silent new toy.

But like every new purchase you should always evaluate and decide whether your money is going to be a well spent. Hopefully you can now think a little more realistically about whether a netbook is the right tool for the job.

Images: Intro, HP Slate 500, Lego RAM, Keyboard, Smartphone, Geek Kitten

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Hot Tech Deals [Jan 3rd]

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 12:15 PM PST

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Klipsch Icon X Series 8in 300W Powered Subwoofer $279.88 Free Shipping No Tax
  2. TODAY ONLY Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Software $39.99AR Free Shipping
  3. Dell Latitude D620 Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 2GHz 14.1in Laptop (REFURB, 2GB/80GB/XP Pro) $299.99
  4. TODAY ONLY McAfee Total Protection 2011 Software (1-User) $8.99 Free Shipping
  5. Vizio E470VA 47in LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $657.99 Free Shipping
  6. Samsung ML-1665 Personal Monochrome Laser Printer $39.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

5 Tips & Tricks To Avoid Facebook Phishing Scams

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 11:31 AM PST

facebook scamsWe’ve already warned readers about a few of the more recent Facebook phishing scams, but it would seem that a new scam is coming out for every new member that joins the site. While it’s best to stay vigilant and read up on the latest scams to avoid, there are a few other tips that will keep you ahead of the game, protecting your profile 24 hours a day.

With all of your personal information and photographs posted on Facebook, the last thing you want is to find that your account has been hacked or accessed without your permission. We’ve put together a list of ways that you can protect yourself from the latest scams, making sure that your Facebook account is never compromised. Also be sure to check out Tina’s article on how to get instant alerts about the latest threats, whether on Facebook, or anywhere else on the web.

Follow The Sophos Blog

Antivirus developers, Sophos, report on the latest Facebook phishing scams practically on a daily basis on their blog, Naked Security. There seems to be no limit to the rogue applications preying on people’s curiosity, or the desire to activate certain features on their Facebook profiles through these apps. Sophos is one of the best sources today when it comes to Facebook scams.

facebook scams


BitDefender’s SafeGo is a Facebook application designed to keep users aware and protected from spam and any kind of threat that might be floating around Facebook. SafeGo scans your profile for any suspicious links, and you also have the option of allowing the app to automatically post a comment to your wall when a threat is detected.

facebook phishing

Facebook Security

Another place to find tips and tricks to stay safe on Facebook comes directly from the source. Facebook’s Security page is constantly being updated with ways to protect your account.

facebook phishing

Look For The Signs

Aside from all of these tips and tricks, the most important thing that any person can do is use common sense. See who it was that posted the link and ask yourself how likely it is that they would share something that begins with OMG You won’t believe this! or would they really write to you, through Facebook of all means, if they were stranded in a strange city?

If you receive emails that claim to be from Facebook, always analyse the email address they came from and the link they want you to click. Facebook notifications always come from Facebookmail.com.

What To Do If You Unwittingly Clicked That Link?

If you feel that you may have been the victim of a Facebook phishing scam, the first thing you should do is change your Facebook password. If you’ve linked your Facebook account to other online services, it would probably be best to change the passwords to those services as well.

If you’ve granted permission to an application, you can revoke permission through your privacy settings. Navigate to your Privacy Settings, and at the bottom of the page, click ‘Edit your settings‘ under Apps and Websites.

facebook phishing

You will be taken to a page featuring the latest apps you’ve authorised. Click the ‘Edit settings‘ button.

phishing on facebook

From there you can delete any apps that you have mistakenly authorised by clicking the small ‘x’ next to the app.

facebook scams

How do you keep your Facebook profile safe? Have you been the victim of any phishing attacks? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Best Resources for Mac & Apple Device Users with Disabilities

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 10:30 AM PST

mac disability supportIf you or someone you know has a disability that makes using a Mac computer a challenge, you might not be aware of the many default assistive technology resources and tools available in Mac OS X and Apple mobile devices. Apple has provided standard features such as magnification tools, speech commands, audio assistance cues, and mouse and keyboard configurations for Mac users with low visual, hearing, or physical and motor skill disabilities.

All these Mac disability support resources are included by default in the Mac operating system, plus there are several online tutorials and websites to help users understand how to use the assistive technology.

Even Mac users who don't have disabilities might find these features useful—such as the speech command features that allow you to navigate your computer without using the mouse or trackpad.

Universal Access Features

One of the most useful tools for Mac users with disabilities is the Universal Access features, which can be found in System Preferences > Universal Access.

mac disability support

When you first enable these tools, you're welcomed to an on-screen tutorial guide for how to use its features.

mac disabilities

Screen Magnification

For example, enabling the Seeing tool provides the visually impaired or those with learning disabilities the ability to magnify a desktop screen for easier viewing.

mac disabilities

This feature has options for the range of zoom and how the screen image moves in relationship the mouse. It also, of course has keyboard shortcuts for turning the feature on and off.

mac disabilities

Another way to enlarge the screen for those with low vision is to open System Preferences > Displays and change the resolution size of the screen, from the actual size to a smaller size, making the font and icons much larger.

Similarly, in Mac OS X's Address Book, users with impaired vision may Control-click on a phone number label and select "Show in Large Type" to get a really huge display of a selected phone number.

mac disability

Also, in Safari's Preferences, users can click the Advanced tab and change the minimum font size for the rendering a web page, from say 14 points to 18.

mac disability

Speaking Features

For Mac users with hearing disabilities, the OS X's Calculator features a speech command that will announce the numbers as they are pressed on the keypad.

mac disability

Also check Jeffry Thurana's how-to article on using the Mac's popular Speech Commands features which allow users to navigate any Mac without using a mouse.

Online Resources

The resources described above are only a handful of the more than 50 other tools available for Mac users are disabilities. These features are all built into the Mac OS X operating system. Other tools enable users to customize the type of digital voice used for speaking and text commands, as well as use the numeric keypad of a keyboard to control the VoiceOver commands.

VoiceOver also has interactive tools to help you get started with its features.

In addition, Apple provides a great set of video tutorials explaining how to use of accessibility features, including Voice Over, screen magnification, mouse and trackpad sensitivity, and audible keyboard cues.

ATMac.org is also a useful site dedicated to providing reviews, how-tos, and other resources for Mac users with disabilities, chronic illness, or other impairments.

Topics covered on the site include:

  • Accessibility news about all Apple products
  • New and updated AT software
  • Software which has AT uses, although it may not be written with this purpose
  • New and updated AT hardware that works with Apple products
  • Getting the most from your existing hardware and software in terms of accessibility
  • Hints, tips and tutorials about all of the above
  • Coding accessible software

Apple Mobile Devices

Many of the assistive technology resource described above can also be found in Apple's mobile iOS 4 devices—the iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad.

Tapping on the Settings app > General  > Accessibility will provide similar Mac options for VoiceOver cues, zooming, and audible aide assistance.

mac disability support

I'm quite certain there are other enhancements Apple could make to further assist Mac users with disabilities, but it looks as though the existing features are great start.

Let us know of other resources that might be helpful.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

10 Websites to Make and Print Word Search Puzzles

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 09:30 AM PST

make a word search puzzleAdd word search puzzles to the list of games you can play with mere words and using nothing but a pen and paper. Oh, I forgot, you can play all sorts of puzzles and games on the web these days. Let's talk about word search puzzles here.

Unlike crosswords where you pencil in the missing words with the help of clues, word search puzzles are about finding the hidden words in a grid of letters. The word you are searching for may be placed horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or even arranged at a 90 degree angle. The challenge of word search is in the clues if provided.

Just like crossword or any word games, word search puzzles are fun educational tools. A teacher can use it as an aid to teach anything from a foreign language to scientific terminologies. If you have a theme for a word search puzzle, search out the best among these ten websites and make (and print) your own word search puzzles.

Wordsearch Fun

make a word search puzzle

You can not only find loads of word search puzzles here, but also follow a four step process to make your own. Your custom word search puzzles can be included under the many categories gives or you can put it under 'Miscellaneous' for any that doesn't fit. You can choose from 5 size choices (from 9×9 to 15×15). You can keep your puzzles private or open them to the public. When the puzzle is ready, you can choose to email it across or print it out. If you feel it's too easy, the option – Scramble this Game, reorganizes the grid.


word search maker

At Teacherly, you can create a word search puzzle in seconds. There's a simple text box to enter the words and a slider that sets the difficulty level. The hardest is – up, down, left, right and diagonal words. You can also browse through other puzzles created by users.

Word Search Maker

word search maker

Word Search Maker makes it even easier to create a puzzle. You can start off with a single word puzzle and copy the code (or send a link across) to your website. You can keep on adding words according to the complexity you want to set. The arrangement of the worlds is pretty much the standard – horizontal, vertical, and diagonal.

Word Turtle (Fun Brain)

word search maker

To make your own puzzle and print it on paper, you need to start off by selecting the level of game play. For instance, Super Hard is – 18 words, 20 letters, with reverse and diagonal. You can also choose to play against yourself. While playing against yourself, click on the first letter of the word you find; Fun Brain highlights it in yellow.

Word Search Generator

word search puzzles

Word Search Generator gives you more customization options to create your own word search puzzle worksheets. You can go for your own word list or choose from the ones already on the site. If it's a large list, you can choose the number of words you want to pick from the list. What's great about this puzzle generator is the number of grid options you have to play with including shapes like smile, diamond, and car. Set your font styles and word placement options before you click on create.

SuperKids Word Search Puzzle

word search puzzles

You can make your own printable hidden word puzzles using the SuperKids Wordsearch Puzzle Creator. Input your words and set the grid size to create a puzzle page which you can then print out. This one is a really simple tool for some quick puzzles.

Discovery Education's Puzzlemaker

word search puzzles

Puzzlemaker gives you three choices when you generate your puzzle. An HTML one if you want to print it out, a Text option to paste it in some other application, and a Lowercase option which is the same as the last option but with all the letters in lowercase. You can also go with a puzzle which allows letter sharing among the words. The maximum puzzle size is limited 40 words.


Make printable PDF word search puzzles on this site. Of course, you can also opt for the HTML version too. You can customize the layout and the color of the puzzle page. You can see the options you have in the screenshot. WordSearch lets you arrange the words in any direction. Along with the puzzle PDF, you can also generate the answer key as a separate PDF file.


The Instant Online Word Search Maker comes without any extras. Place your words in the text box, choose the number of rows and columns to define your grid and create your puzzle. You can print the puzzle from the browser.

Just Word Search

make a word search puzzle

This online word search puzzle is based on Flash. While you cannot make your own puzzles, you can play around with the display size and color before printing out the puzzle.

A word search puzzle is only as good as the words you choose for it. Once you decide that, these websites help you to make a word search puzzle and print it out in a few easy steps. Which word search puzzle website would you go for? Let us know.

Image credit: Shutterstock

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Install & Use Linux The Easy Way With The Ubuntu-Based PinguyOS

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 08:31 AM PST

new linux osHave you wanted to check out Linux, but were too intimidated by all of the choices available? Now is a good time to get your feet wet with a distribution that is geared towards new Linux users.

Much like Mint Linux which we have covered previously, PinguyOS has the latest base 10.10 Ubuntu Linux distribution and customizes it with an eye towards ease of use. Continue reading for an overview of this operating system and whether it is worth your time to check it out.

PinguyOS is an Ubuntu-minimal base installation with customized packages, sources and other tweaks to make it a “zero effort” install. What I mean by this is when you install the regular Ubuntu operating system, there are a number of problems you face out of the box due to technical and other legal restrictions which can make it a several-hour or day-long endeavor to get it optimized and running the way you most likely want it. The creators of PinguyOS have taken the viewpoint of a new user and has tweaked, remixed and otherwise customized the operating system so that it is ready to go as soon as you install it.


After you download the ISO file (32 or 64-bit, depending on what your computer supports) you then burn it to a disk. Place it in your CD drive and boot off of it – you will be given several choices much like the original Ubuntu install. You can either “try before you buy” and run it as a LiveCD or jump straight to the installer if you want to wipe out your current system and dive in head first. If you are installing it to your system follow the prompts as they are very straightforward.

Getting Accustomed To The Desktop

new linux os

If you are coming from either Mac or Windows you will feel at home in PinguyOS. The main difference is that the “Start” menu is at the top along with the clock and other system shortcuts. On the right side is a system status menu – if I had one complaint about the OS it is that this is information that would be mostly irrelevant to a “new” Linux user and seems extraneous from this viewpoint. As a big Linux user myself I thought it was cool that this was included in the default install.

linux os programs

There is a dock at the bottom and left named Docky, this works much the same as the Mac OSX dock and will be familiar if you are coming from Apple. The start menu is the same one that Mint uses – it has been optimized to look much the same as the Windows 7 start menu with a search bar and frequently used programs.

linux os programs

You have many programs available to you right out of the box. VLC and many multimedia codecs (including h.264) are installed and I had no problems playing the movies I have saved on my shared drive. Speaking of file sharing, Samba – the Linux folder sharing program – is installed and ready to be activated on any folder so PinguyOS plays nicely with any other Windows or Mac computers on the network.

What Makes PinguyOS Different From Mint Linux?

new linux os

First of all PinguyOS borrows from some of the packages that Mint Linux has developed to make things easier for end users. But it also adds in frequently used programs so that you do not have to search around for them, some examples are Docky, Virtualbox, VLC and media codecs. In this respect it is not a “bare bones” Linux install like Mint Linux, it is more rounded out with programs many Ubuntu enthusiasts use.

Although PinguyOS started with an minimal Ubuntu distribution it has added many of the programs most power users will install right away after an install. In this way it literally saves someone hours of time of research and installation of these packages. The creator, Antoni, listened to friends and family while deciding which packages to install in this distribution in a way that many power users of Linux simply forget. The way that Linux is infinitely customizable is also its downfall for many new Linux OS users as it is easy to get drowned in the sea of choices. PinguyOS makes it simple to get up and running in minutes instead of hours.

In Summary

If you are looking to get into Linux, PinguyOS is a must-try distribution. Download it today and you can literally be running Linux like a pro in minutes. If you have always wondered what all of the geeks that are running Ubuntu rave about, this is it! Let us know how you make out, we would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Get Organized in the New Year with Postbox 2 [Giveaway]

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 07:30 AM PST

Postbox is a sophisticated email client, with a myriad of robust productivity options to even satisfy the needs of users that declare themselves exclusive to webmail. This email client is compatible with both Windows and Mac; and is real easy to set up.

This week, we’re giving away 25 copies of Postbox 2, worth almost $750 in total. How awesome is that? If you want to grab one for yourself, read on.

Effortless Setup

If you’ve used or tried Thunderbird, Outlook or Apple Mail, then you know the basic options that Postbox packs. Postbox does include a number of features you wish they or webmail services would implement already.

Starting up with Postbox is really a breeze. To add an email account, you simply have to enter your name, the email address, your password and nothing else. You don’t have to search for the port number as Postbox takes care of that.

In fact, that seems to be what Postbox does best, facilitate things for you. For example, when you first load an email conversation either in the main page or in separate tabs (yes, Postbox comes in a tabbed interface!), a pane to the right shows you handy links to search for attachments or pictures, find URLs, etc. so you can get a clear picture of the whole thread.

Social Networks Without Distracting Feeds

Postbox can also show you pictures of the sender in a pane for more personal communication. It can pull profile pictures and email addresses from either your address book or your friends’ Facebook and Twitter pages once you log in through the mail client.

Not only that, Postbox also lets you update your status on those networks, in addition to FriendFeed so you don’t need extra browser tabs open just to broadcast your latest thought.

Organization With To-Do’s and Topics

Postbox also helps you get organized when it comes to tasks, without additional webpages open. You can mark any conversation as a to-do, which should show up in, for example, Gmail as a starred conversation.

In addition to marking conversations as to-do’s, you can also assign topics to emails for easier searching later on. Topics are Postbox’s way to handle categories. You could think of them as labels in Gmail, but take into consideration that most mail clients present the Gmail labels as folders so Postbox Topics will not appear in Gmail as labels as they are not folders.

They will, however, appear in the Focus Pane, which contains links to commonly-accessed topics and contacts, as well as one-click access to view emails that have attachments, are unread or that were sent at specific times.

Additional goodies packed into Postbox are numerous keyboard shortcuts and a very powerful search engine to filter messages from your large inbox.

Postbox shines for offering lots of incredibly useful and time-saving features that would otherwise take some setup, tinkering and workarounds in other mail clients and services.

Try it out for yourself by downloading a fully-functional, 30-day trial from their website.

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!
Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States; Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, January 7th at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Postbox Inc. for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

No comments:

Post a Comment